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  • Culture Beaker

    Your photos reveal more than where you went on vacation

    Summer is upon us and that means clichéd vacation photos are nigh. But that picture of your cousin holding up the leaning tower of Pisa or of Fred from accounting jumping in front of [insert national monument here] could be a data point in a bigger picture. Scientists are tapping into the vast repositories of photo sharing...

    07/01/2015 - 16:40 Science & Society, Technology
  • Scicurious

    No matter the language, disease risk is hard to communicate

    At the beginning of June, my travel companion and I were lost somewhere in the bowels of the Seoul subway in South Korea. As we puzzled over a map we could barely read, a kind young woman, a surgical mask covering her nose and mouth, stopped and offered to help us find our way. As she led us to our next train, she looked at me seriously. “You should get one of these,” she said, gesturing to...

    06/29/2015 - 16:56 Science & Society, Health
  • News

    Music to just about everyone’s ears

    Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news: Scientists have for the first time identified key characteristics of music worldwide. The findings lay the groundwork for deciphering why people everywhere sing, play instruments and find melodies so compelling.

    No musical features, not even simple scales composed of distinct pitches, are absolute universals that occur in all song...

    06/29/2015 - 15:00 Psychology, Anthropology
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Faith vs. Fact’ takes aim at religion

    Faith vs. Fact
    Jerry Coyne
    Viking, $28.95

    It’s increasingly popular to view science and religion as complementary ways of knowing about ourselves and the universe. But that idea doesn’t have a...

    06/29/2015 - 10:00 Science & Society
  • Screentime

    New app creates a searchable network of species worldwide

    Part interactive field guide, part map, a new app compiles millions of records on species ranges worldwide. By pinpointing your location, the Map of Life app lets you explore plants and critters you might see nearby. Or tap around the globe to see what might be blooming in Singapore, for example. Click on a species name to reveal its range map (one...

    06/29/2015 - 07:00 Networks, Animals, Plants
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘The Science of TV’s the Big Bang Theory’ educates as it entertains

    The Science of TV's the Big Bang Theory
    Dave Zobel
    ECW Press, $17.95

    Math, science, history — science writer Dave Zobel  unravels the mysteries in The Science of TV’s the Big Bang Theory.

    Some...

    06/28/2015 - 16:00 Physics, Science & Society
  • Growth Curve

    Should you eat your baby’s placenta?

    Having a baby means having to make decisions. Among the countless quandaries parents face are where and how they’ll give birth, what they’ll name the new little fella and whether they should buy a swing or a bouncer. In recent years, another question is getting thrown into the mix: Should a new mom eat her placenta?

    Though statistics are elusive, it seems more and more women are...

    06/26/2015 - 07:00 Health, Science & Society
  • Scicurious

    The guilty pleasure of funny cat videos

    They fill the Internet on page after page of videos, gifs and images. Viewers seek them out insatiably, from early in the morning to late at night — and even on their work computers, often in full view of voyeuristic colleagues.

    Pornography? No. Cats.

    Now, one scientist has conducted a survey to find out why we spend so much time watching cats online and what we might get out of it...

    06/25/2015 - 07:30 Psychology, Science & Society
  • News

    When baboons travel, majority rules

    Baboons don’t follow the leader. When a troop of these monkeys splits up and starts moving in two dramatically different directions, animals gravitate toward the more popular choice, a new study finds.

    When traveling baboons branch off in only moderately conflicting directions, the animals compromise by taking an in-between path, say quantitative and computational biologist Ariana...

    06/18/2015 - 14:00 Animals, Psychology, Anthropology
  • News

    Kennewick Man’s DNA links him to present-day Native Americans

    Native Americans can claim Kennewick Man as one of their own, an analysis of DNA from one of the ancient individual’s bones finds. But the investigation’s suggestion that Kennewick Man had especially close genetic ties to northern Native American tribes that want to rebury his bones is controversial. 

    DNA extracted from a man’s 8,500-year-old skeleton, which was found in Washington State...

    06/18/2015 - 13:00 Anthropology, Ancestry, Genetics